The Atari 2600 Video Computer System Controller

Atari 2600

This is the grand-daddy of all modern home-console controllers. It wasn't the first home controller. But, it may have been the first console joystick controller. It was also the first one that hit it big-time and therefore became the standard for which all subsequent controllers were compared to.

First released in 1977 and selling until about 1991(!), these joysticks have widthstood a lot of punishment. The early version was built stronger, heavier and had actual switches inside (you can identify these by the lack of the word "top" written in place of the up arrow), and later ones were cost-reduced (these are the ones that tended to break if pushed too hard.)

Functionally, it's about as basic as a game controller can get. This is an 8-directional joystick with one button - the only thing simpler would be a paddle, or just buttons themselves.

Ancestors - Atari Pong, Arcade Joysticks

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Descendants - ColecoVision, Atari 7800, GCE Vectrex, Magnavox Odyssey 2, Nintendo Entertainment System

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